Jennifer Venditti is a casting director who found herself in Maine, looking for some interesting teenagers for Carter Smith's short film Bugcrush. While scoping out a local high school, she spoke with a group of bullies who told her about a boy they had harassed. Intrigued, she asked who, and they pointed to Billy. Venditti sat down to speak with him, and the moment he spoke, she realized what a special person was sitting across from her. She followed him through his life for a week, gaining a slew of footage that chronicles the angst of a stellar 15-year-old -- footage asking to be molded into a film that became Billy the Kid.

Of course, making a documentary about a 15-year-old boy raises questions about whether Billy is exposed or exploited. Recording adolescence means grabbing all of those awkward and gut-wrenching moments and molding them into a cinematic whole. Superficially, you could question this film for showing all of Billy's highs and lows -- both his happiness and his vulnerability. However, to do so is to miss what Venditti was trying to achieve, and what I believe she succeeded in doing. The film challenges our assumptions and tendency to stereotype while reminding us of just how great it is to be different. Billy has his struggles and his strangeness, but he's also got a large heart and genuine vision that should be celebrated instead of questioned.
categories Reviews, Cinematical